X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Nine

Australia, the last page is almost at our finger tips and discussions at the metaphorical water cooler have become increasingly divisive. Basically, the winner of X Factor Australia will be declared in a matter of days and I don’t think anyone can comfortably call it. Put it this way. You have your preferred winning man but after such an unpredictable year of public voting, you can’t be too sure of yourself.

This week’s final live show decider was left completely to the public’s vote and there it was again – that familiar sense of disappointment with another eviction. I remember feeling the same ennui wash over me this time last year when girl band du jour Mahogany got the boot as jazz boy Andrew Lawson sashayed into the grand finals.

Monday’s mega episode saw 1.4 million viewers tune in to experience some serious flaunting of Channel 7 coins with Andrew, Johnny, Reece and Three Wishez all taking turns warbling two songs in elaborate stage set-ups.

The “pleasure and pain” theme was kept loose enough for each performer to really mine their respective artistic angles. There’s no excuse to hold back at the home run. Every performer came correct with a no-restrictions take on their personal idols: Andrew went for John Farnham, Three Wishez charged up with the Black Eyed Peas, Reece tackled Guns N’ Roses, and Johnny got him some Ne-Yo.

The big-budgeted stage spectacle helped intensify the overall excitement for the grand finals, yes, but as with every graduation – there comes ponderings of future success. Has the series done enough to the get us adequately hyped for each contestant’s next step into the music industry?

Check out my one last examination of the final three acts – Andrew, Johnny and Reece – before the grand final decider on Tuesday, 22 November:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Eight

Do you like the below amazing compilation of serious game faces, y’guys? I am now accepting congratulatory pats on the back. It’s been two whole months of hit and miss live shows in Australia and I think we’ve seen enough to know whose careers we’ll be following from here on out.

This was not the final five I picked back in September but I am glad the ones I had initially overlooked got to stay and prove themselves a little. Don’t get it twisted, I’m no Andrew Wishart and Declan Sykes apologiser. But the least I can do is give snaps where snaps are due for the times they’ve unexpectedly come through with the goods.

None of the final five that remain have enjoyed a flawless track record. We’ve got the predominantly consistent performers – Reece Mastin and Papa Andrew Wishart – and then the dubious ones like Johnny Ruffo and Declan Sykes who have both given us some of the best and worst performances in the series.

I think what people don’t get about the X Factor is that, although it’s a singing competition, it is still just a bloody TV show. Y’all need to remember that it’s just family entertainment and these contestants are like reality TV characters. The beauty with reality TV characters is that often the ones that succeed don’t necessarily have to be the most beautiful, talented or creative. They just have to be addictive and/or endearing. Now take a step back and review the current final five and tell me what you see.

Johnny Ruffo plays the classic underdog – as a young labourer who’s never had any singing or dance lessons, he’s actually not doing too shit a job entertaining millions on live TV. Over the weeks, we’ve seen the pungent cockiness of his first audition wear off to reveal an incredibly resilient young man who keeps fighting back week after week to elevate himself. Now, that’s a good story.

Most suburban, middle-aged viewers can relate to Andrew Wishart. Apart from being an undeniably powerhouse vocalist, the man’s also witty, likeable and just all around endearing to watch. I don’t see papa as a “hit singles” artist chasing paper with the rest of them, but that’s not to say that he can’t sustain a future in the music industry. Andrew – being a talent show darling – could potentially develop a hard core stan base like Guy Sebastian and Altiyan Childs. That in itself should be enough to keep him gigging for a few years to bring home bacon.

Reece Mastin is another kick arse vocalist in the top five but unlike Andrew, the kid is dead pan as a TV personality. He’s got no heartwarming life story and no real spark to his character other than the spirit you see come alive when he’s on stage. The Reece factor is simple: youth, cracking vocals, and them cute dimples.

Three Wishez would actually fare better outside the X Factor. I feel like Ronan’s starting to fuck with their vibe and muddle them with daggy song choices. You hear them constantly name checking “Three Wishez” in their live performances but the question is, after two months of fronting does anyone actually know who Three Wishez are as artists? I can’t wait for them to be free to construct their own material with fitting vocal parts, rather than flap about week after week covering songs that weren’t made for their unique mixed group rap/sung flavour.

Here is the real tea on the best and worst moments of this week’s X Factor Australia:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Seven

Only three more shows until X Factor Australia has a winner. Can you pick one from the pack already?

This week our final six got the command to dance and while there were mostly moves in the right direction, one or two managed to really upset the rhythm. [Editor’s note: you gotta be proud of yourself if you can spot the three songs Limoncé has referenced in that sentence.]

It’s rather startling that at this stage of the game, Guy Sebastian still hasn’t lost one of this contestants and as a collective, they now make up half of the competition. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if he ends up with two acts in the final three. A feat only two X Factor judges have ever achieved – see: Dannii Minogue circa 2007 on the UK series and Jan Fredrik Carlsen of the 2009 Norwegian franchise.

When our Aussie series reached its final six this time last year, we already had our handful of polished contestants. All the performers had found their place by then and were capable of turning out vocally consistent results. I’m not sure if I can say the same about this year’s final six. This show actually feels like a big budget end-of-year concert thrown by a local singing school. There are some A+ vocalists getting unearthed but there are also some developing singers mingled in the line up. Is this really what the X Factor is all about?

At what point should our mentors stop pushing some contestants into risky song choices when they’re not vocally equipped to do it, and start actually tailoring songs to enhance whatever talent is already there?

Find out the hits and misses of this week’s live show, and which Power Bottom Two act just had their last dance:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Six

I’m sorry, y’all. There is no X Factor Australia recap this week because I struggled to stay awake through the hour-long beigefest of predictable performances. I’mma go snuggle up to Mama Brown.

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Five

What’s happening to the X Factor Australia ? Not only did everybody get the memo to up their game but a few of them even went on to successfully own their first live show performance. But y’know what? I must’ve been watching something different altogether because two of the strongest performers this week wound up with the least amount of public votes.

This week, our final eight took on #1 hits from a variety of genres and eras – covering smashes by Stereophonics, Beyoncé and The Rolling Stones et al. However, the real challenge here wasn’t to see which one of these hopefuls would hit the ground running and entertain us. The whole point of doing a #1 hits show is to sniff out the potential artists from the garden variety karaoke hustlers, right? You want to see somebody putting their stamp on an overplayed and well-familiar hit, and breathe some new life into it. Basically now would be the time to demonstrate some artistic flair – if you’ve got one.

At this stage of the competition, you should already be showing the public what kind of records we can expect from you. If you’re a country singer, start actually serving some kind of country realness and stop fooling around with dusty RSL rock. This was basically what Guy Sebastian had to say to Mitchell Callaway, the shy tatted-up teddy who has – as Nat Bass said – been merely “playing the game” every week with whatever MOR/adult contemporary track assigned.

The man auditioned with a country song and it was evident what kind of music he prefers to be making, but apart from the first week where he did a country re-write of Rihanna‘s ‘Only Girl In The World’, Mitchell hasn’t stayed true to his artistic inclinations. The guy is not making the best of his time on the X Factor. I don’t think he realises that there folks who spend years gigging in obscurity just so more people can recognise who they are as artists, and he’s got the opportunity to do it in weeks.

Watch Mitchell getting by this week with ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’:

This week all the key performers I’ve given a nod to deserve props because for the two-or-so minutes they were on stage, they managed to help me realise who they are as future recording artists and not just put up with whatever that’ll get them through week by week in a talent competition.

Check out the #1 hits highlights, controversial judging and shock Power Bottom Two acts:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Four

One month into the live shows and this series is already starting to flatline. What the X Factor Australia desperately needs is a shake up because right now, the only thing raising my blood pressure is the shock eliminations and the fact that actually entertaining performers are winding up in the bottom two.

At this point everything that was promising in the first live show has basically turned to dust. The stage spectacle, innovative song choices and styling are fading to a glimmer as all the consistent performers become painfully predictable and safe. The thrill is gone, y’all. When you no longer get wet with excitement to see your faves come out and do their thing, putting up with the other filler acts becomes almost unbearable.

Basically, nine acts hit the stage this week to recapture hits of the nineties and only one managed to slay. Major kudos to Christina Parie, who was the only contestant that bothered to show us something new. After three weeks of seeing her bounce around the stage – just being Miley – the girl turned up this week in a black dress and sat herself behind a piano to deliver her first ballad.

Elsewhere, Guy Sebastian was trying something new in the sonic department, genre-mating and taking admirable risks with song arrangements. However, I think he kinda missed the point with all this musical innovation because, let’s be real, this is a television show. Try as hard as you might to paint your artists with a new sound, but if it doesn’t come complete with a new look and performance art – your vision is only half realised.

Ronan Keating arguably has the most exciting category but at a point in the competition where nobody has any business slacking off, he appears to be taking the easy road with his groups. The visual presentation and song arrangements for Young Men’s Society and Audio Vixen no longer excite like they used to. His mixed pop/R&B group – Three Wishez – continue to change their game, making the most of their unique position [read: actually having three individual performers].

Nat Bassingthwaighte had her boys – Mitchell Callaway and Andrew Wishart – tugging at heartstrings with major power ballads ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ respectively. It is understandably safe and overly emosh, but she knows who both acts appeal to and what their demographic expects. I don’t feel compelled for Nat to make any drastic changes because any outlandish staging and experimental song choices would just appear too forced for these two. There really is only so much you can do with her mature-aged warblers.

Check out the hits and misses in this week’s nineties-themed show, and of course, the shock Power Bottom Two:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Three

You did it again, X Factor Australia. What started off as a mildly amusing live show line up ended in a stinking pile of controversy after a judge called out a contestant for “rude behaviour”, basically polarising any discussion to be had about the performance. It’s only the second time this has happened.

It was Amanda Grafanakis-gate all over again last night when Mitchell Callaway copped a public rebuke by Guy Sebastian for his “behaviour” and ill-treatment of some crew members. The shy tatted-up country warbler was caught off guard when Guy exposed his backstage rudeness to the nation, a “seemingly sizeable issue” that even his mentor Natalie Bassingthwaighte struggled to hose down then and there. It seems like none of the judges – apart from Guy – knew what the hell actually happened.

“You’ve got to have the right attitude to this competition… not at times be rude to crew, you really have to pull that in and rein that in because you won’t last long in this competition or this industry if you do that,” Guy advised Mitchell in what should’ve been a verdict focused on his on-stage performance not off-camera antics. [Editor’s note: y’all can watch the drama go down later in the post].

The repercussions must’ve been too much to bear as Mitchell told Nat after last night’s “rock themed” episode that he won’t be returning to the show – something he has since taken back after she revealed his grim decision on air to Kyle & Jackie O this morning. The atmosphere was tense, y’all. It honestly felt like a trip to the principal’s office and I don’t think this is the right time and place to address “behavioural issues”.

When judges attack a contestant’s character on live television with cameras rolling, I struggle to see how it can be taken as “constructive criticism” rather than a blatant attempt to destroy the person’s public favour. The voting lines were just opened, the man had delivered the best performance he’s ever done in the competition and that was the last thing on everyone’s mind. As a performer himself, I thought Guy could appreciate how public attention on an artist’s off-stage antics can detract from the music.

However, on the flip side, I’ve read discussions supporting Guy’s decision to expose Mitchell and it’s not all wrong. The X Factor is a public-voted show and a contestant’s likability is equally as important as their vocal capabilities. Therefore, voters deserve to know who they’re really voting for – and they can then decide whether Mitchell’s off-camera “rudeness” really matters in the grand scheme of things. You can’t ever really separate someone’s persona from their on air performance in a show like this. You can’t take “feelings” and impressions about the performers out of the equation.

It would seem that Guy was sparing us the details for Mitchell’s greater good because if the real tea had gone out about the 25-year old concreter “picking on” young Declan Sykes, the backlash would’ve been immense and he wouldn’t have polled favourably at all. The Daily Telegraph reports that there was a verbal and physical clash between the tatted-up man and the fair-haired teen ten years his junior after Mitchell “pricked [him] with a pin”. This is school yard stuff, y’guys.

Now that we’ve addressed the headline-grabbing issue of the night, let’s check out the other catfights and spotlight moments of this week’s live show:

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